The next day, D-503 fears he hasn’t written yesterday’s records as clearly and as detailed as he’d have liked. For this reason, he will now fill in the blanks for a readership unfamiliar with history’s more recent events—like the fact that no ciphers have stepped beyond the Green Wall since the Two-Hundred-Year War.
D-503 obsession with composing his records as clearly and detailed as possible shows how readily he embraces a rational, empirical relationship to the world. Zamyatin’s decision to make the Wall that separates the One State from the rest of the world green evokes nature and freedom.
To D-503, his current world is merely a continuation of humanity’s journey from a nomadic to a settled lifestyle. Civilization’s journey toward “settledness” was the result of the Two-Hundred-Year War, in which roads were destroyed and urban centers became cut off from one another. At first, this was likely difficult to adjust to, but D-503 can’t imagine life without the Green Wall or the Table of Hours—an organizing mechanism for the One State’s ciphers, assigning purpose to every hour of their day. Ciphers eat, sleep, work, exercise, and even engage in two hours of personal time according to the Table’s schedule. D-503 sees these two hours as a flaw, and he’s confident that one day the table will account for every hour of the day.
The One State can only achieve a sense of “settledness” if it exists in a vacuum. By destroying roads, the One State effectively cut itself off from the rest of the world, suggesting that its citizens are only obedient because they have no knowledge or possibility of a free, unmonitored way of life. The One State knows that, given the choice, ciphers would inevitably act on their human, irrational urges, so they must deny them the option to do so.
The Table is good because it disallows for freedom. D-503 suggests that freedom is nothing more than “mass murder,” as, left to their own devices, people would engage in destructive, criminal behavior. He finds it ludicrous that earlier governments hadn’t taken away their citizens’ freedom sooner, instead letting them run wild and destroy themselves slowly.
D-503 equates freedom with the ability to act on desires. The One State can’t eliminate ciphers’ drives to act destructively and criminally: it can only repress them.
D-503 anticipates that his readers might believe he’s joking, but he’s not: he knows that life used to be this way, as One-State Science confirms it was so. Even today, there are “minor incidentals” that hint at the disorder of earlier civilization, though they are quickly “repaired,” as the Benefactor and the Guardians repair and maintain order in the One State. D-503 recalls that he’s seen the S-shaped man he saw earlier with I-330 around the Bureau of Guardians, insinuating that this man is one of the Guardians. The sleep bell rings at 22:30, and D-503 finishes his record for the night.
D-503’s flippant description of instances of insubordination as “minor incidentals” shows that he’s in denial about humankind’s desire to rebel. He doesn’t want to believe that rebellion and freedom are humanity’s default condition, so he brushes off moments of rebellion as incidental.